The act of making mandala art is not only relaxing, it has the wonderful side effect of self-discovery. I had the joy of working on Cassia Cogger‘s band new book Creating Personal Mandalas and I finally got around to trying out two exercises in the book that have intrigued me. Another opportunity I’d been waiting for was to try out a set of Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers that I acquired recently. So I was excited to combine my intentions and try them out together!
Working with Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers
First, a bit about the markers. They come in four sets of twelve—Essentials, Primary, Floral and Nature—for a total of forty-eight colors.
Exercise 1: Lotus
In her book, Cassia calls this exercise To Rise Up – A Lotus Mandala. Just as a lotus rises up out of the mud, creating this mandala is perfect after a hectic day. As she puts it, “Often, drafting and painting a mandala guides one in the process of rising up even on the most challenging of days.” What I discovered was that is was the perfect warm-up for me to open up my spirit and come home to my center, preparing me well for the second exercise.
Exercise Two: Personal Mandorla
A mandorla is the shape created when two circles overlap. The almond shape has many symbolic associations including the space between female matter and male spirit. Jung saw this space as a clash of the conscious and unconscious self.
For her exercise in Creating Personal Mandalas, Cassia suggests creating a mandorla with two measured arcs and dividing the spaces to either side into four sections. Then, to think of these sections as four areas of your life you’d like to bring into focus. The mission of the exercise is to explore where you are today versus where you’d like to be in the future.
I chose to approach this exercise by truly not thinking about particulars or any symbolism I hold for colors or shapes with regard to specific areas of my life, while I was creating; to just try and work intuitively and see what marks came out. Before beginning, I mentally spoke to myself which life categories were currently important to me—learning, inner awareness, connection with others and daily moments of joy—then I let any associations with them go. I knew my subconscious had heard my words and there would be something to learn after the piece was finished. I like how Cassia put it recently:
“Even after hundreds of mandalas, I forget that I never really know what a piece will have to tell me or where it will ultimately go.”
What the Art Revealed
So what did I glean from this finished piece? To find this out, I did what I always do when I’ve finished a mandala which is to ask myself questions. What does this shape mean? What does the contrast between this and that other section mean? The colors? Is there an overall message? The key then is to not question what answers surface. So I can’t tell you why the associations were what they were, but here’s a rundown of what I learned from the answers:
- Almonds suggest shifts.
- Biggest shift I desire is in the area of connection/community.
- Shifts in learning and inner awareness will be unexpected.
- Every area to experience more expansion and a spaciousness.
- In the area of daily joy, I don’t desire a lot of change (things are pretty good already!) other than a bit more simplicity.
If these creative exercises appeal to you, take a look at this guest post by Cassia Cogger and don’t forget about her book, Creating Personal Mandalas. You never know what you might learn about yourself in the process!
If you enjoy making art with repeated patterns and love the resulting meditative experience, for another relaxing art project, take a look at these repeating-patterned trees from Sandrine Pelissier.